Plans to move Norwich Rugby Club to UEA playing fields revised in attempt to satisfy objectors

Picture by Mike Page.Picture shows:UEA Sports ground

Picture by Mike Page.Picture shows:UEA Sports ground

Norwich Rugby Club have been back to the drawing board after objections were voiced to a scheme to move across the city to fields adjacent to the University of East Anglia.

The rugby club chose the Colney Lane site after searching for a new home, as it sold its current base at Beeston Hyrne, near Spixworth, to a housing developer. But the original plans, submitted in February, provoked concerns from the Yare Valley Society over the loss of environment, and Norwich City Council which was worried about the impact the development would have on the Pink Pedalway cycle route.

Revised plans, submitted jointly with UEA to South Norfolk Council, include new landscaping around the area, sports pitches, taking the total number to 32, a new pavilion/club house, which would include a café, changing room, club room and bar, new footpath and cycleway, an extension to the Colney Lane car park from 37 to 87 spaces, a new 168-space car park (reduced from the original 208 space proposal) and 100 cycle spaces.

Andy Pott, secretary of Norwich Rugby Club, said a great deal of work had been done to try to satisfy the concerns raised.

'I do not think there is a great deal more we could have done while still providing a plan which is financially sustainable,' he said.

'These areas are almost entirely playing fields already and all we are doing is add additional fields for children, and an artificial pitch.

'The current changing facilities are wholly inadequate and there are no social facilities for post-match activities.

'We are trying to provide those facilities in a package that is designed to try to create a regional sports centre of considerable quality for UEA students, members of the rugby club, and the whole community.'

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The current site of the rugby club was sold under a stipulation from a member who has rescued the club from 'a difficult financial position', added Mr Pott.

'Our current site was conditionally sold six years ago and we have been looking at alternative sites since then,' he said.

'The club was in a difficult financial position which meant we had to look for additional financial support.

'That came from a club member, who wanted to develop our current site as part of his contribution. To solve our short term financial problem while looking to the future didn't leave us a great deal of option.

'We have been running for about 130 years and we have no intention of stopping.

'We are not saying this won't have an impact, it will, but we are doing our utmost to make sure people who already use the area will still be able to do so by upgrading cycle routes and the social facilities.'

A UEA spokesman said the plan is 'an important project for the university, the club and the community'.

The scheme is supported by the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital considering the underlying health benefits, and Norfolk FA for the inclusion of a new artificial pitch.

Comments are open on the revised application until July 20 on South Norfolk Council's website.

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